New Translation of the Mass: 2

In early 2011 the English translation we use in the Roman Missal will be replaced by a new more accurate translation of the Latin. The translation we use at present in the Mass was issued in the 1970s in something of a rush after Vatican II and has long been acknowledged as being in need of improvement. Each of these newsletter handouts will focus on a different part of the Mass.

The Latin
Fratres, agnoscàmus peccàta nostra, ut apti simus ad sacra mystèria celebrànda.

Old Translation
My brothers and sisters, to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries, let us call to mind our sins.

New Translation
Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti et vobis, fratres, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, opere, et omissióne: [All strike their breast] mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Vírginem, omnes Angelos et Sanctos, et vos, fratres, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
Misereàtur nostril omnìpotens Deus et, dimìssis peccàtis nostris, perdùcat nos ad vitam aetèrnam.

I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, [All strike their breast] in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord, our God.

I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, [All strike their breast] through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.1

May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.

The practice of confessing our guilt at the start of the liturgy is something that is very alien to the modern mentality, and yet, it is practice that is very deeply rooted in our Christian thought and practice. (1) Modernity’s loss of the “sense of sin” It is often remarked that many people today have little “sense of sin” and this is because they often have little explicit faith in God. As Pope Benedict recently noted, when there is no longer a clear faith in God then "the sense of offense against God - the true sense of sin – dissipates”. This is a trend that was noted by popes throughout the 20th century and still today. By starting the Mass with this prayer we are seeking to re-connect with the Christian awareness that sin is not just a failing and not just a sin against our neighbour but is fundamentally an offence against God. (2) Confessing our guilt frees us from guilt One of the tragic consequences of modernity’s loss of the sense of sin is that although “the 'sense of sin' has been lost ... 'guilt complexes' have increased”, as Pope Benedict has noted. Facing our guilt and seeking forgiveness frees us

from guilt, a freedom that is both spiritual and psychological. (3)Striking the chest One of the ancient practices that is a part of this prayer is the striking of the chest. While this gesture is to be done by both the people and the priest in many places this seems to have dropped out of fashion: the new translation provides us with a reminder that this is something that everyone should be doing. (4) The new translation: “greatly” sinned “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” As the above indicates, the new translation is simply a more faithful and accurate translation of the Latin and should help us to better recover the “sense of sin” and better prepare ourselves for Mass. Fr Dylan James, Shaftesbury, 23rd August 2010

1

Note that the 2010 recognitio from Rome has altered some phrases from the 2008 recognitio, altering the priest’s introduction and ‘absolution’ in the penitential rite –the absolution is now returned to the words used in the 1960s translation. http://blog.adw.org/2010/08/new-romanmissal-translation-contains-some-last-minute-changes/

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